Those of you that watch Fox Classics probably know Bill Collins. Bill - when not calling Melbourne Cups - is a voluminous font of film fact. He has been for some time. Since he stole Bert Newton's rug, anyway.
One of Bill's favourite clumps of advice is that to enjoy any film you have to be positive and view it with an open mind.
According to the Billster, most films released BBB (Before Block Busters) have something to offer. However, you won't get anything out of one if you don't put anything into one. In other words, don't watch An American In Paris if you're convinced it's just another soppy, sappy, song & dance saga. Even though it is.
It was therefore with an open and generous frame of mind that I watched Friday night's rugby match between Australia and Argentina.
I'm not a fan of Rugby Union - I used to be - but since the inception of Super Twelve I've seen far too many games where I don't have an emotional attachment and as a result I haven't been hooked. In fact, I've discovered I prefer League. And I'm not too big a fan of that either. Never the less, I was prepared to put aside my suspicions that the game isn't all it's cracked up to be and watch Our Boys stick it to the Argies.
Because "Aye, there's the rubdown".
I consider myself to have a finely tuned eye for sporting nuance but when I watch cricket I do so because I love the game and appreciate all it's finer points, but when I watch Rugby it's primarily because I want to beat the Poms, Yarpies or Kiwis and not because I want to marvel at the wonders of a quick one-two around an overlapping halfback.
I think this may also be the case for many other Aussie Rules obsessed Victorians, Tasmanians, West Australians and South Australians. And perhaps that's why we've been forced to endure a Blitzkrieg like publicity campaign from Channel 7, Foxtel and the daily blabs.
It's at this point, therefore, that I'd like to hand over to my favourite Aussie sports journo, the Age's Leaping Larry L, who today takes aim at Seven's coverage of the Rugby World Cup....
Like a shovel clonking against an unprotected forehead in an old Three Stooges short subject, we have been ruthlessly belaboured for months with how big a deal rugby union's World Cup is. We've had plenty of pay and free TV ads to tell us how they're going to be all over every ball and every game, and we're going to be living in it, swimming in it and standing in it.
Yeah, well, not counting Friday's opening match, which was a "gimme" anyway, out of seven games over the weekend, with two TV outlets to cover them, only three are shown live in this market. Only ONE of these is on Seven, which hasn't been able to shut up about the damn World Cup for what now seems like eons. Over this weekend, we can get Australia-Zimbabwe and India-New Zealand Test matches, the Bathurst 1000 (Ten, today, from noon), three Major League Baseball play-off games, the PGA Las Vegas Invitational, and, Lord help us, college football from Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wisconsin - all live. But for a rugby World Cup in our own backyard - ruthlessly ground into our kissers and shoved down our throats for months in advance - the best we can manage is a strike rate of three live games out of a possible seven. One, if you're among the cable-challenged. What a big deal it demonstrably is to all concerned.
Understanding this is apparently a relative breeze next to attempting simultaneous translation of Chris "Buddha" Handy's colour commentary during Friday night's Australia-Argentina match.
Gordon Bray: "He's scored tries in his last six test matches and Wendell Sailor gets the debut try of rugby World Cup 2003!"
Chris Handy: "Well, none will be more delighted than Wendell Sailor. But listen to this crowd go off! Last week the rugby league grand final, this week the rugby World Cup, and Wendell performs!"
How the NRL grand final made a guest appearance in that sentence is one for the ages. Can't remember Sailor playing in it.
"Your eyeballs start to quiver and shake. You think they're going to pop out of your head."
Despite a resemblance to an old Jerry Lee Lewis song-lyric, this was Handy's colorful impression of what it was like packing into a scrum with the Argentinians in 1979. What useful information could be gleaned from this in 2003 is another argument for another de-progamming session.
Can any power on the planet Earth explain why THREE special comments men would ever be needed in the same booth alongside a perfectly able play-by-play caller (Gordon Bray)? Seven gave it to us, and one day might even explain why. Tim Horan provided the most detailed and helpful analysis, Dan Crowley was the one dinner guest too many, and Gordon Bray had to double-up on colour because Chris Handy was showering us with gems like:
"They need to go down the line at any stage, crank up the pressure and turn up the Bunsen-burner a little bit."
The Bunsen-burner. Cripes. Not so Handy.
One thing Leapster didn't mention was Bruce McAvaney's bold claim - Bunsen-burner heated to critical mass - that this Rugby World Cup is the....
"THIRD BIGGEST EVENT IN THE WORLD OF SPORT!"
....or something like that.
Now, taking away the Summer Olympics and the Soccer World Cup, it's just possible this claim may contain evidence of spin, bull-shit and even microscopic traces of hype.
In short, it's a ludicrous claim. One akin to an earlier over-heated claim that boasted the international significance of the World Swimming Championships.
And to this sports fan at least, the evidence at hand doesn't back it up. In no particular order....
Formula 1 Championship
Tour De France
English Premier League
American Baseball playoffs
Cricket World Cup - there are probably more fanatical cricket fans in Calcutta alone than there are rugby fans in the whole world.
Does everyone hate that kind of hype like I do? Afterall, they would barely mention the event if it wasn't on their channel.